Gracie’s Gift Foundation

Gracie’s mum Nikki filling her car with made up shoeboxes!

Last November five year old Gracie, her mum Nikki and the Children’s Cancer Centre’s Merridy Justice, family resource coordinator together with KOALA Kids volunteer Grace Kerr, distributed the first delivery of shoeboxes filled with brand new items thoughtfully and generously donated by the families in Gracie’s prep class at Mentone Primary School.

Gracie was diagnosed with Leukaemia last July and although responding well to treatment has to still undergo intense treatment for the first six to 12 months and then remission and maintenance for another two years. Says Nikki, “Gracie is a very strong and brave little girl and she loves to have fun and likes to keep busy!”

The shoebox of fun was Nikki’s idea after Gracie had been admitted several times, and depending on the time of day and the day of the week, was spending hours and hours with nothing to do. Due to understandably strict hygiene regulations, Nikky found that unless she bought enough of Gracie’s own toys and activities from
home, they were spending hours frustrated and anxious looking for games to play and activities to keep Gracie distracted and occupied.

Merridy, Nikki and Gracie with the shoeboxes
Merridy, Nikki and Gracie with the shoeboxes

After explaining her idea to Gracie’s teacher, she ran with it and every prep child filled a box as a class project. The prep teachers got right behind the project and subsequently achieved 80 boxes!) The children made their cards in class – with the objective of teaching the children to think of a child with cancer, to do something nice for them and to help them feel empathy for that child.

The teachers on the ground at MPS were very supportive and helped to ensure the boxes were filled following Nikki’s guidelines. (They even collected and handed out new shoeboxes for each child to take home.)

Gracie with some of the shoeboxes of fun!
Gracie with some of the shoeboxes of fun!

Nikki told KOALA Kids, ‘it was my idea but it took the dedication of the teachers to achieve the initial success”.
There are separate shoeboxes for girls and boys and each box is sealed and filled with a selection of new toys, dolls, games, colouring, stickers, activities, books.

For marketing material, more information about Gracies Gift Foundation, the shoebox program and how you, your school or business can participate please contact

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